Weizmann Institute Professor Leo Sachs Wins Harvard Medical School's Warren Alpert Foundation Prize


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Prof. Leo Sachs
REHOVOT, Israel -- March 18, 1997 -- Prof. Leo Sachs of the Weizmann Institute of Science has been awarded Harvard Medical School's Warren Alpert Foundation Prize. Given "in recognition of scientific discoveries leading to improved understanding and treatment of disease," the prize will be presented to Prof. Sachs at a ceremony at the Harvard Medical School on April 17.

Sachs is being honored for "work on the molecular regulation of bone marrow cell growth and differentiation and the use of granulocyte colony stimulating factor to treat bone marrow suppression." He shares the prize with Dr. Donald Metcalf of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Melbourne, Australia.

Prof. Sachs' pioneering research, begun more than 35 years ago, has revolutionized molecular, cellular and clinical hematology. He developed the first procedure to grow and clone different types of normal blood cells in laboratory cultures.

Using this procedure, he discovered a family of proteins that control blood cell production, among them the compounds now called colony stimulating factors and some interleukins.

One of these proteins, the granulocyte colony stimulating factor, is today being used clinically to boost the production of disease-fighting white blood cells in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy or irradiation, to improve the success of blood cell transplants and in other procedures.

Sachs also demonstrated that the proteins he discovered and certain other compounds can induce the maturation of particular types of leukemic cells, causing them to revert to normal. This finding has led to the development of a new experimental cancer treatment called differentiation therapy.

Sachs, who holds the Otto Meyerhof Chair of Molecular Biology and is a member of the Weizmann Institute's Molecular Genetics Department, has received numerous awards, including the Wolf Prize in medicine, the Israel Prize in natural sciences, the Rothschild Prize in biological sciences, the Harvey Lectureship, the Alfred P. Sloan Prize of the General Motors Cancer Research Foundation, the Bristol-Myers Award for distinguished achievement in cancer research, and the Royal Society Wellcome Foundation Prize. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and a Foreign Associate of the USA National Academy of Sciences.

On May 30, Prof. Sachs will also receive a Doctor of Medicine Honoris Causa from Lund University, Sweden, for his pioneering studies in experimental and clinical hematology.

The Weizmann Institute of Science is a major center of scientific research and graduate study located in Rehovot, Israel. Its 2,400 scientists, students and support staff are engaged in more than 850 research projects across the spectrum of contemporary science.